Fakarava, the second largest atoll in French Polynesia, offers a wide array of natural wonders in the seclusion of the South Pacific. A UNESCO classified nature reserve, Fakarava is perhaps best known for its scuba diving, as the passes on each end of the atoll are home to everything from manta rays and dolphins to sea turtles and hammerhead sharks. Lodging in Fakarava ranges from resorts to traditional pensions (guest houses).
White Sand Beach Resort
The only resort on Fakarava, the White Sand Beach Resort was formerly known as Le Matai Dream Fakarava. The resort is located on the northern end of Fakarava, near the capital Rotoava, and on the edge of the large, unspoiled lagoon that defines the atoll. This location should entice those who are traveling to Fakarava to experience diving in the nature reserve. The resort offers scuba diving packages and lessons for those new to the activity, and rents equipment to those already more experienced. For travelers who would still like to view the array of ocean life present in the lagoon but do not wish to dive, White Sand offers snorkeling and kayaking equipment free of charge to guests. Other activities readily available include boat excursions to one or more of the motus (small islands) that dot the lagoon, and visits to working black pearl farms. Pearl farming is one of the main industries of Fakarava, and a visit to a pearl farm offers a traveler a deeper look at Tahitian industry and day-to-day life. White Sand appeals to the traveler who wants to relax and enjoy the beauty of French Polynesia and the activities available but still maintain some of the comforts of home. Offering 30 private bungalows as well as amenities including a restaurant, two bars, Internet, currency exchange, a fax service, laundry and babysitting, White Sand is designed for those travelers who wish to have the resort experience and enjoy French Polynesia in a little bit of luxury.
Pearl Guest House Havaiki
The Pearl Guest House Havaiki offers an intimate experience on Fakarava. With six one-bedroom fares (traditional bungalows) hand built by the couple that owns the guest house, and Polynesian meals personally cooked by the wife, a native to Fakarava, the Pearl Guest House appeals to travelers looking for accommodations with a personal touch. The Pearl Guest House is situated on a private lagoon and offers boat excursions to some of the top diving sites in Fakarava, as well as deep-sea fishing trips on the owner's personal boat. Besides the intimacy and privacy offered by the guest house's small size and secluded location, travelers are also encouraged to view the working black pearl farm on the premises. Guests may snorkel over the pearl farm and even participate in a "pearl lottery" where they choose their shell and -- if lucky -- perhaps their own black pearl. Pearl Guest House Havaiki offers the traveler an insider view of daily life on a working pearl farm, as well as a comfortable, clean and intimate experience of French Polynesia, ideal for more adventurous couples looking for a romantic vacation.
Tetamanu is the ancient capital of Fakarava, located on the south part of the atoll at the pass of Tumakohua. Along with the modern capital Rotoava in the north, it is home to the majority of the estimated 500 Fakarava natives. Staying in Tetamanu allows travelers not only the chance to explore the ocean life of the Tumakohua pass at their doorsteps, but also to experience some of the history and native culture of Fakarava in one of its oldest settlements. Tetamanu offers two choices of accommodations: Tetamanu Village and Tetamanu Sauvage. Tetamanu Village is a traditional pension offering six private, double-occupancy bungalows right near the pass of Tumakohua. Tetamanu Sauvage offers five private bungalows in a palm and coconut grove right on the beach, as well as an over-water restaurant. Both pensions aim for an intimate and traditional Polynesian experience; the bungalows and furniture are handcrafted by locals, and offer privacy and seclusion for couples or singles hoping to relax and experience the beauty of Fakarava while still enjoying a location close to notable diving sites and the ancient village. Activities offered by the Tetamanu guest houses include lagoon fishing and diving, deep-sea diving and half-day boat excursions to the motus in the lagoon. Proximity to the Tetamanu Diving Center, located at the Tumakohua pass, should especially appeal to diving novices and those who wish to learn more about the best diving in the area.
For those who desire a vacation in an even more remote location than the main atoll of Fakarava, Motu Aito may be just the place. Located on one of the motus near Tetamanu, Motu Aito offers eight traditional Polynesian bungalows of various sizes and caters to all types of guests, from honeymooners to singles to large families. A family-owned pension, Motu Aito seeks to appeal to the adventurous traveler looking for a Robinson Crusoe-type Polynesian experience. Motu Aito offers snorkeling, fishing, motu walks and picnics, as well as evening communal barbecues, ideal for those interested in feeling like part of the family. The proximity of Motu Aito to Tetamanu, as well as daily boat trips to the village, allows guests to experience both the seclusion of the motu and the amenities and culture of the ancient village (including a visit to the Tetamanu Diving Center for those interested in diving activities). Motu Aito is designed to create a friendly and inclusive atmosphere, and may appeal especially to those looking to meet other travelers.
- manta diablo image by Jose Hernaiz from Fotolia.com